Since the founding of the Department of Music in the mid-1960s, Stony Brook has been a hotbed of activity in the field of contemporary music, producing many of the leading music performers and composers of our day. Stony Brook Soundings is a two-volume release that offers premiere recordings of ten exciting new compositions by faculty and students.
Volume I features the up-and-coming Escher String Quartet, hailed for its “glowing tone and insightful musicianship” by The New York Times. The Eschers, who served as visiting lecturers-in-residence with Stony Brook’s Emerson String Quartet in 2007-2008, give virtuosic performances of five new works, four of them quintets featuring a guest artist. Daniel A. Weymouth’s in (all) the time we have left, with clarinetist Oskar Espina Ruiz, begins the album in a flurry of fiery gestures. The harmonic lushness of Max Giteck Duykers’ Glass Blue Cleft moves into transcendental realms. Kellojen kumarrus by Ilari Kaila, with Jacob Rhodebeck on piano, is a profound “in memoriam” work that both celebrates life and laments life lost. Eugene Drucker (founder of the Emerson String Quartet) makes a stunning debut as composer with his Four Sonnets By Shakespeare, featuring baritone Andrew Nolen. Perry Goldstein’s jazzy and rhythmically driving Quintet for Alto Saxophone and String Quartet, featuring acclaimed saxophonist Kenneth Tse, closes the first volume.
Volume II, a vigorously eclectic collection of music, reveals Stony Brook’s wide range of aesthetics at its best. Opening the disk is Sheila Silver’s provocative Twilight’s Last Gleaming—a heartfelt response to the Iraq (and all) war—for two pianos and two percussion, performed by distinguished Stony Brook faculty, Gilbert Kalish, Eduardo Leandro, and Christina Dahl, and joined by percussionist Kevin Dufford. Tyler Capp’s Stranger Variations incorporates both traditional and bluegrass fiddling techniques, which, under the expert bow of violinist Claudia Schaer, cannot fail to delight. Cello master Colin Carr leads an ensemble of seven cellists in Peter Winkler’s imaginative and playful Fantasy for cello septet. Daria Semegen carries her lifelong enchantment with electronic music into the realm of piano music in her Vignette, expertly performed by pianist Cathy Callis. And, to end the disk, Margaret Schedel’s “ferociously interactive” world comes alive in The Beautiful Don’t Lack the Wound, featuring guest artist Esther Lamneck on the exotic and rarely heard Hungarian folk instrument, táragató, with interactive electronics.
Stony Brook does not espouse musical orthodoxy; rather, it offers an environment where the passions and aesthethics of several generations of composers and performers inspire, intermingle, and interconnect. This richly textured musical community has nurtured the freshness and diversity of musical styles heard in Stony Brook Soundings. At the turn of the millenium, Stony Brook continues to be a boon to musical creativity.
—Becky Starobin, Bridge Records Inc.